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When a teacher at University of East London suggested he contact Fredrickson directly and say he’d found a mistake, he resisted.

“It occurred to me that the level of proof someone would have to bring to me if I was Dr.

He had been poring over the original papers that informed Fredrickson and Losada’s 2005 article—papers written or co-written by Marcial Losada. In his research on business teams, for instance, “the length of the business meetings weren’t even mentioned.” “Normally you have a method and the method says we selected these people and we picked these numbers and here’s the tables and here are the means and here’s the standard deviation,” Brown says.

“He just goes: ‘Satisfied that the model fit my data, I then ran some simulations.’ The whole process was indistinguishable from him having made the data up.” In scrutinizing Fredrickson and Losada’s work, Brown happened upon a line in their 2005 paper that caught his attention: “Losada (1999) established the equivalence between his control parameter, c, and the Lorenzian control parameter, r.

* * * As described by the Oxford University Press, positive psychology aims “to study positive human nature, using only the most rigorous scientific tools and theories.” In a 1998 president’s address, then-president of the American Psychological Association Martin Seligman announced the birth of positive psychology, calling it, “a reoriented science that emphasizes the understanding and building of the most positive qualities of an individual: optimism, courage, work ethic, future-mindedness, interpersonal skill, the capacity for pleasure and insight, and social responsibility.” In large part, positive psychology can be defined by what it is not—the study of mental illness (rather, it aims to preempt it)—and in contrast to what came before it—a branch of the social sciences called humanistic psychology that focuses on “growth-oriented” aspects of human nature, but which some in positive psychology criticize as not being adequately scientific.

Cultivate a “positivity ratio” of greater than 2.9-to-1 and sail smoothly through life; fall below it, and sink like a stone. Now cited in academic journals over 350 times, it was first put forth in a 2005 paper by Barbara Fredrickson, a luminary of the positive psychology movement, and Marcial Losada, a Chilean management consultant, and published in the , the flagship peer-reviewed journal of the largest organization of psychologists in the U. So he jumped at the chance to transfer into human resources when it presented itself.And in a study of people with severe depression, Seligman found that positive psychotherapy relieved, “depressive symptoms on all outcome measures better than treatment as usual and better than drugs.” Similar findings have afforded positive psychology a level of public credibility that few other psychological subfields enjoy. Department of Education, the Penn Resiliency Program (part of the University of Pennsylvania’s Positive Psychology Center) began a four-year study of positive psychology’s effects on ninth-graders at a high school outside of Philadelphia.Centers and academic programs have sprouted up across the world, the most influential of them being Seligman’s own one-year, ,000 Master of Applied Positive Psychology program at the University of Pennsylvania. Six years later, in 2008, Seligman entered into a far-reaching collaboration with the U. Army, resulting in a 5 million government-funded “Army-wide” program known as Comprehensive Soldier Fitness (CSF).“Basically, the way to be lucky is to just put yourself in situations where good things can happen,” Brown remembers, “because more good things will happen to you than bad on any given day, but nothing will happen to you if you just sit indoors.” After the talk, Wiseman signed books.The pile dwindled down and down, and only four books remained when Brown made it near the front of the line. “I thought, ‘Well okay I’m not going to get one,'” he says.

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